Interview with: Ron Woodrum
How did you get started in the hobby?
I started playing boardgames in 1976 while serving in the US Navy. Metagaming was publishing their micro-games series, and just about every month a new one would come out that I just had to have. The Space Gamer was the first magazine I ever subscribed to and it opened my eyes to a whole new world of hobby ideas. Upon completion of my service, I returned home and began helping to organize conventions in the Cincinnati area. It was there that I was introduced to miniature gaming and was hooked from then on.
Can you explain a little more to me about the Metagaming micro-games series and what you liked about it?
At the time they were published a conventional boardgame was meant to be played in a 4-6 hour timeframe. SPI and Avalon Hill were the major publishers of wargames at that time. Metagaming introduced a line of games that were pocket sized and created to be played out in less than an hour. If you didn't have all night to set up and play a game, Metagaming had a title for you.
What are your favorite genres to play?
I like the aspect of colonial powers carving up the world for themselves. I'm also a fan of sci-fi because it allows for just about anything to happen.
What sub-genres of colonial and sci-fi gaming do you focus on?
I bought a huge French Foreign Legion army so when I play colonial battles I use the French mostly. For sci-fi I'm working on a robot army but I also have a Spug army and LOTS of Starship Troopers minis. I'm also guilty of buying gumball machine figures and mounting them up to be used in my miniature games.
What was the best game you've played in for each?
In one game the Nautilus was trapped in the underground tunnel going from the Mediteranean Sea to the Red Sea. My French had to defend a well leading to the tunnel. A group of Nemo's automatons were trying to drop an explosive charge down the well to free the Nautilus. Mayhem ensued.
In another game I had my FFL guys burrow into the steamy tropical jungle interior of the Earth's moon to fight the Selenites (Spugs) for the rescue of a lost French colony.
What was the best game you ever saw?
One game I try to play every year at Origins is 55 days at Peking. The guys running it are great to be around. They are very knowlegable of the subjects that they game and are extremely talented at making terrain bits.
What are your favorite conventions and/or clubs?
I've been a member of HMGS-GL for many years so I'm a little biased when asked about conventions. Origins is one of my favorites though.
What/where is Origins?
Origins once travelled the country but now has landed and will stay in Columbus Ohio. It was originally a boardgames convention but has always welcomed miniatures and other types of games. It happens at the end of June and was once the premier gaming exhibit. Its not as popular as it once was but seems to still be going strong. Many manufacturers hold out for Gencon to introduce new product these days.
What is it that you like so much about Origins?
It was the first major show I ever attended. It mostly focussed on Avalon Hill games. If I recall correctly, they were the first organizers of that particular convention. Mayfair Games usually sponsored an Empire Builder tournament. For those not familiar with EB, you create railway lines by connecting dots on a map to various cities with a crayon. Each city has a particular commodity and a demand for other commodities. You collect contract cards and drive your trains from one city to the next to collect money and expand your rail empire. No dice, just savy.
What conventions in the Cincinnati are did you help organize?
I was involved with the Cincinnati Adventure Gamers; a nonprofit organization we created to help get the conventions up and running. We ran one in the spring and one in the fall. I think we ran about 6 before getting burned out, it may have been 5 - it was long ago!
What is a best kept secret in the hobby?
From my sales figures I'd say that Chinstrap Miniatures is a well kept secret! =P. Seriously though, it's not just a rich man's hobby. With a little skill and imagination a gamer can create the most wonderful experience with odds and ends found around the house gathering dust.
What is Chinstrap Miniatures?
I bought a line of American Civil War figures from Quick Reaction Force in England. They were getting out of producing larger figurines and concentrating on 15mm figures. The ACW figs can be seen at www.chinstrapminiatures.com . Currently I have 2 lines, ACW Infantry and American Western Gunfighters in 28mm size. Chinstrap Miniatures are available exclusively online from www.LeftHandMiniatures.com
Who do you really respect within the hobby?
Lou Zocchi, showman extraordinaire and founder of Gamescience dice. Frank Chadwick, Howard Thompson, Steve Jackson, Tadashi Ehara (I've probably misspelled that).
What are some unique things that you've done/seen/thought of?
I convinced Ral Partha (now Iron Wind) to produce the hex bases for use with their Battletech miniatures.
What was it like working for Ral Partha?
I worked as a caster for Ral Partha at their Norwood location. I was part of their travelling convention show in the 80's where Chuck Crain and I would pack up the old dodge van just about every other weekend and hit some local show to sell products and run games.
Working at Ral Partha was a dream come true. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there. Unfortunately I sold out and took a job in the printing industry. I've made a decent living doing that. I have a modest home and always have nice cars but it's just not as fun as working at Partha. Sometimes I really, really miss it.
What are some of the details of casting figures that you can share with us?
For the uninitiated, casting metal is hot work. You stand next to a machine that looks a lot like an old time washing machine with a pot of 400-500 degree metal (the metal used today is much cooler) and a line of stinky rubber molds at your table. You place a rubber mold in the spin caster clamp down a platten to hold the mold in place. Shut the lid and the mold begins spinning. You quickly dip your ladle into the hot metal and pour a spoonfull into the casting machine. Centrifugal force sends the metal into the mold, and when the machine stops spinning, your mold is ready to be extracted. Crack it open and pull the figures off the sprue and toss them into their inventory boxes. Grab the next mold in line and repeat. It's tediuos, hot, dusty work, but I loved pretty much every minute of it!
What would you like to see in the hobby?
More women! =P. I dont know how the sterotype of gamers arose but there has been a lack of female representation from day one. It's a wonder the gaming gene didn't get flushed from the pool back in the 70's!
Thanks for speaking with us!
© 2008, Gabriel Landowski